AWS-3 Auction Appears to Be Winding Down...Again

For the second time, the AWS-3 auction appears to be winding down. The first time was before the FCC changed the rules to goose the auction, shortening the bidding rounds and essentially requiring bidders to weigh in or get out.

Following a flurry of new bids that drove the dollar amount above $43 billion, the provisional bid total has been rising by "only" $20 million-$30 million for the past couple of rounds, and all but three of the 1,614 licenses have bids.

The new total is $43,629,147,500, with $27,376,900 in new bids (80 of them) in round 88, though that was up from $20,967,000 on 64 bids in round 87. The auction started Nov. 13.

The auction has already quadrupled its reserve price and tripled some pre-auction estimates.

The AWS-3 auction is for 65 MHz of spectrum being bid on by wireless companies including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Proceeds will pay for FirstNet, the interoperable first responder network, E911 and R&D, as well as for deficit reduction.

The success of this auction means the FCC is under less pressure to raise money from the broadcast incentive auction to pay for those things, though it is still under pressure from wireless companies to reclaim as much spectrum as possible for auction.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.